Messianic Hopes in the Qumran Writings
In the first twenty-five years which followed the discoveries and first publications of the texts from Qumran few topics were so widely discussed as that of “messianism.”2 The reason for this interest is easy to understand. In most of the other Jewish writings of the Second Temple period, the figure of the Messiah either does not feature or plays a very secondary role. In contrast, the new texts expressed not only the hope of an eschatological salvation but introduced into this hope the figure (or the figures) of a Messiah using the technical terminology. Thus they promised to clarify the origins of the messianic hope which occupies such a central position within Christianity. The expectations of the first years of research were not fulfilled and the reaction was not long in coming. The interest in “Qumran messianism” moved rapidly to a secondary level on the agenda of Qumran studies.3
In publications of the last few years a new interest in the topic of Qumran messianism is evident, not dependent on the messianic idea of the New Testament but as an object of study in its own right. New studies appear regularly and abundantly.4 It would not be necessary, though, to deal with the topic again except that, in the course of 1992, several texts were published which throw new light on Qumran messianism5 but have not as yet been incorporated into an overall view of the problem.
My intention is simply to present the messianic texts recovered, that is, all the texts from the Qumran library (published or unpublished) in which are found references to the figure of the Messiah using the technical term, or to various other messianic figures, agents of eschatological salvation who are not referred to with the actual term Messiah. Naturally, I will discuss in more detail the texts which until now have been studied less and much more briefly those of which the content has been analyzed at length in the past. Unlike the presentation of other scholars,6 I make no distinction between texts which can be considered sectarian and those whose character is more uncertain. This is because I am convinced that the simple fact of these texts being included in the sectarian library is enough to guarantee that their content was seen as in agreement with the basic thought of the group. Also these texts whose origin is difficult to determine reflect the development of biblical ideas prevalent in the period when the real sectarian texts were composed.
The picture that emerges is fragmentary and kaleidoscopic, like the texts themselves. We cannot forget that we find ourselves before an accumulation of texts produced during a period of not less than two hundred years. They can reflect perfectly well different perceptions, changes and transformations of a single idea. The library of Qumran is uniform but it is not one-dimensional or monolithic. We cannot expect more uniformity in it than is found in the Hebrew Bible, the base text which forms the foundation of all later developments.
In none of the 39 times where the Hebrew Bible uses the word “Messiah” does this word have the precise technical meaning of the title of the eschatological figure whose coming will bring in the era of salvation.7 The “Messiahs” of the Old Testament are figures of the present, generally the king (in Isaiah 54:1 it is Cyrus) and more rarely, priests, patriarchs or prophets. And in the two cases when Daniel uses the word, they are two persons whose identity is difficult to determine, though certainly not “messianic” figures. Later tradition was certainly to re-interpret some of these Old Testament allusions to the “Messiah” as “messianic” predictions. However, the roots of the ideas which later would use the title of “Messiah” to denote the figures who would bring eschatological salvation, are found in other Old Testament texts which do not use the word “Messiah.” Texts such as the blessings of Jacob (Genesis 49:10), Balaam’s oracle (Numbers 24:7), Nathan’s prophecy (2 Samuel 7), and the royal psalms (such as Psalm 2 and Psalm 110) would be developed by Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Ezekiel in the direction of hope in a future royal “Messiah,” heir to the throne of David. The promises of the restoration of the priesthood in texts such as Jeremiah 33:14–26 (missing from the LXX) and the oracle about the high priest Joshua included in Zecariah 3, were to act as a starting point for later hope in a priestly “Messiah.” Similarly, the double investiture of the “sons of oil,” Zerubbabel and Joshua, in Zecariah 6:9–14 would be the starting point of the hope in a double “Messiah,” reflecting a particular division of power already present since Moses and Aaron. In the same way, the presence of the triple office: king, priest, prophet, combined with the announcement of the future coming of a “prophet like Moses” of Deuteronomy 18:15,18 and with the real hope in the return of Elijah of Malachi 3:23, would act as the starting point for the development of a hope in the coming of an agent of eschatological salvation, whether called “Messiah” or not. Similarly, the presentation of the mysterious figure of the “Servant of YHWH” in chapters 40–55 of Isaiah, as an alternative to traditional messianism in the perspective of the restoration, would result in the development of a hope in a “suffering Messiah.” Also, the announcement of Malachi 3:1 that God was to send his “angel” as a messenger to prepare his coming would permit the development of hope in an eschatological mediator of non-terrestrial origin.
This complex of such different “messianic” hopes, barely alluded to in the Hebrew Bible, are included and developed in the manuscripts from Qumran. The exception, perhaps, is the figure of the “Son of Man,” a figure derived from Daniel 7, who reaches his full messianic development in the Book of the Parables of Enoch. About him, however, the manuscripts from Qumran seem to maintain a silence which does not fail to be surprising, given the influence of Daniel on the Qumran writings and the presence among them of various pseudo-Danielic compositions. All the other potentially messianic figures of the Old Testament occur in the writings from Qumran, in various stages of development. Analysis of the texts containing these references permits us to outline the complex picture of the messianic hopes of the community.
We begin with those texts which actually mention a single messianic figure, either because he was the only one hoped for or because the chances of preservation have deprived us of the passages in which other messianic figures were mentioned. We end with those texts in which several messianic figures occur together.
1 Davidic Messianism
At Qumran we find a series of texts which contain the elaboration of the basic lines of royal and davidic messianism of Old Testament origin, exactly as expressed in texts such as Jeremiah 23:5–6, Balaam’s Oracle in Numbers 24:17, and Psalm 2. These texts prove to us that within the community, hope in a “Messiah-King” was very much alive. The move from allusion to an anointed-King to hope in an “Anointed One,” who would come in the future as a King, is to be found in the following texts:
This first text shows us that within the Qumran community the famous blessing of Judah by Jacob of Genesis 49:8–12 was already interpreted in a clear messianic sense, so confirming the antiquity of the messianic interpretation of this text found in the Palestinian Targum.8 The text in question comes from a discontinuous pesher on Genesis which has still not been published in full, but of which the messianic section has been known since 1956 as 4QPatriarchal Blessings.9 This composition is preserved in three fragmentary copies (4Q252, 253, and 254), of which 4Q252 is the longest. From what can be deduced from the fragments preserved, the work commented on selected excerpts from Genesis: the story of the flood, the curse on Canaan, the covenant with Abraham, the Sodom and Gomorrah episode, Esau’s descendants and the blessings of Jacob. The commentary on these blessings, acknowledged as an independent unit,10 filled at least three columns of the text.11
The literary form of the work is that of a discontinuous or thematic pesher. This is proved by the introductory formulas, “as it is written” (III 1), “as he said” (IV 2) or the resumptive use of pronouns (V 2,3) and by the actual use of the technical term pesher in IV 2. This itself shows us that it is an original composition from the Qumran community, a fact evident from the use of the expression “the men of the community” in V 5 and of the formula “as he said through Moses in respect of the last days” in IV 2. As a pesher, then, the text attempts to offer us the deeper meaning of the biblical text. For the community, Jacob’s blessing of Judah contains the coming of the “Messiah” and actually refers to it. The text in question (4Q252 V 1–7) can be translated as follows:
1A sovereign shall [not] be removed from the tribe of Judah. While Israel has the dominion, 2 there will [not] lack someone who sits on the throne of David. For “the staff” is the covenant of royalty, 3 [and the thou]sands of Israel are “the feet.” Blank Until the messiah of justice comes, the branch 4 of David. For to him and to his descendants (to them) has been given the covenant of royalty over his people for all everlasting generations, which 5 he has observed [. . .] the Law with the men of the community for 6 [. . .] it is the assembly of the men of [. . .] 7 [. . .] He gives (Florentino García Martínez, trans., The Dead Sea Scrolls Translated, translated into English by Wilfred G. E. Watson [Leiden: E. J. Brill, 1994], 215. All subsequent translations are also from this work, herein-after cited as DSST.)
To the extent that the fragmentary nature of the text allows one to ascertain, each element of the biblical quotation has been supplied with its interpretation.12 The Hebrew word sebet has been interpreted in its double meaning of “sceptre” and “tribe.” Further, sceptre has been understood as “sovereign,” and while not going as far as the radical interpretation of the Palestinian Targum which translates explicitly as “king,” has the same implications. “The staff” is understood as the covenant of royalty and not as the Interpreter of the Law as in CD VI 7. These expressions place the interpretation squarely in the perspective of the promise of dynastic succession, culminating, as the text states, in the coming of the “Messiah.” The equation of “the feet” with the thousands of Israel highlights the military context of the promised royalty. PAM 41.708 (FE 409) shows the existence of a Blank in the manuscript, and this fact explains why the expression “Messiah of justice” is presented as equivalent to the mysterious siloh of the biblical text. The expression is unique in the texts from Qumran, but the parallel with the Teacher of Righteousness makes it clear that its meaning is none other than the true, lawful Messiah.13 The clear dependence of the expression on Jeremiah 23:5 and 33:15: “In those days I shall raise up for David a lawful shoot who will do what is right and just,” also shows the polemical nature of the expression in the anti-Hasmonaean context of the community. It allows us, therefore, to set this development of a hope in a “messiah king” for the end of times within an apocalyptic context. The most logical antecedent of the clause “which he has observed” seems to be “his people,” but the break in the manuscript does not permit the meaning of “his people” to be determined. The union with the men of the community in the observance of (all the precepts of) the Law leads us to suppose that from the viewpoint of the text the kingdom of the “Messiah” is limited to the loyal people. This would mean the members of the Qumran community, but such a conclusion goes beyond the preserved evidence. The loss of the rest of the text also prevents us from knowing in what sense the reference to the peoples of the Genesis text was interpreted. The reconstruction of “to whom the peoples owe obedience” in the lacuna is no more than one of the reconstructions possible. It is suggested by the resumptive pronoun, and keneset is only used one other time in all the texts (4QpNah III 7), in a negative sense, referring to the association of those seeking easy interpretations.
In spite of that, the general lines of the text are clear enough to assure us that in Qumran interpretation, Jacob’s blessing of Judah was seen as a promise of the restoration of the davidic monarchy and of the perpetuity of his royal office. And since the future representative of the dynasty is identified not only as the shoot of David, but also explicitly as the “true anointed,” there remains no doubt about the “messianic” tone of the text. Unfortunately, the details which the text provides about this “Messiah” are not many. Besides his legitimate and davidic character, his inclusion in a perpetual dynasty and the military aspect of his kingdom, the text presents his coming in connection with the Qumran community and in dispute with the Hasmonaean usurpers. Unfortunately, the fragmentary nature of the text and the ambiguity of the pronouns used do not enable us to determine whether his perpetual royalty is exercised over all the people (of Israel) or only over his own people comprising those who observed the Law within the community. Nor can we determine in which sense the other “peoples” are placed in relation to his coming.
This first text, then, only reflects the traditional idea of the “Messiah,” son of David. However, it is necessary to insist on one important proviso. 4Q252, in spite of being the most complete copy preserved of the work, is an extremely fragmentary manuscript. Therefore, it cannot be excluded that other messianic figures played a role in the other missing sections of the work. This proviso is not merely a methodological constraint, but is prompted by two surprising allusions found in the other two copies of the work, even more fragmentary and still unpublished. In one of the fragments of the lower part of a column of 4Q25414 the following lines can be read clearly: “/[. . .] the two sons of the oil of anointing who [. . .] / [. . .] observed the precepts of God [. . .] / [. . .] because the men of the co[mmunity. . .].” The reference to Zecariah 4:14 leaves no doubt at all. Also, this text, as we will see further on, seems to have played an important part in the development of the two-headed messianism which we find in the writings from Qumran. In turn, the larger fragment, 4Q253,15 which preserves remains of two columns, includes a literal quotation of Malachi 3:17–18. This text comes just before the promise of the return of Elijah, a promise which determines the hope in the eschatological prophet of the community, whose messianic character we will indicate below. These two texts do not permit any conclusion to be drawn, but they are a precious indication of the kind of material lost from our pesher on Genesis, and comprise a real invitation to prudence.
We will find the same hope in a shoot of David as future Messiah-King in other clearly sectarian texts. In spite of their fragmentary nature, these texts provide some more details which allow us to sketch the outlines of this figure.
The text in question belongs to a continuous pesher on Isaiah, of which three columns have been preserved and it provides us with the Qumran interpretation of the classic text Isaiah 11:1–5.16 After quoting in full the biblical text in question in lines 11–17 of column III, the text offers the Qumran interpretation:
18 [The interpretation of the word concerns the shoot] of David which will sprout [in the final days, since] 19 [with the breath of his lips he will execute] his enemies and God will support him with [the spirit of] courage [. . .] 20 [. . .] throne of glory, [holy] crown and hemmed vestments 21 [. . .] in his hand. He will rule over all the peoples and Magog 22 [. . .] his sword will judge all the peoples. And as for what he says: “He will not 23 [judge by appearances] or give verdicts on hearsay,” its interpretation: 24 [. . .] according to what they teach him, he will judge, and upon his mouth 25 [. . .] with him will go out one of the priests of renown, holding clothes in his hand (DSST, 186).
The text does not use the technical term “anointed one” but simply speaks of the “shoot of David”; however, the apposition in the text cited previously of “Messiah of justice” with the “shoot of David” guarantees us that both expressions denote the same messianic person whose coming is awaited “in the final days.” Just like the blessing in Genesis 49:10, the passage Isaiah 11:1–5 is interpreted within the Qumran community as a messianic prediction. It is clear that it is a “Messiah-King,” from the dynastic connotations of the term used: “shoot of David.” It is also clear from the allusions to the attributes of his royalty: the throne of glory, the crown and his embroidered clothes. Our text stresses the military character of the hoped for “Messiah,” described to us as a victorious warrior. The destruction of his enemies and dominion over all the peoples, including the archetypal enemy Magog, are the results of his action. He also describes to us his judicial function; but although this will be extended to all the peoples, it is subject to the instruction and authority which he will receive. The lacuna has deprived us of express mention of these instructors and guides of this “Messiah,” but in view of the subordination of the “Messiah of Israel” to the priests in 1QSa II 11–21, it is most probable that it was the priests who, with their instruction and with their authority, guided the judgments of the “Messiah.”
Once the messianic interpretation of Isaiah 11:1–5 is established, the application of this text to a person who recurs with frequency in the Qumran writings and who is called the “Prince of (all) the congregation”17 allows us to understand that this person is no other than the “shoot of David” and the “Messiah of justice.” Two of the texts which apply the prophecy of Isaiah to the “Prince of the congregation” are the following:
20 Blank Of the Instructor. To bless the prince of the congregation, who [. . .] 21 [. . .] And he will renew the covenant of the Community for him, to establish the kingdom of his people for ever, [to judge the poor with justice] 22 to rebuke the humble of the earth with uprightness, to walk in perfection before him on all his paths [. . .] 23 to establish the [holy] covenant [during] the anguish of those seeking it. May the Lord raise you to an everlasting height, like a fortified tower upon the raised rampart. 24 May [you strike the peoples] with the power of your mouth. With your sceptre may you lay waste Blank the earth. With the breath of your lips 25 may you kill the wicked. [May he send upon you a spirit of] counsel and of everlasting fortitude, a spirit Blank of knowledge and of fear of God. May 26 your justice be the belt of [your loins, and loyalty] the belt of your hips. May he place upon you horns of iron and horseshoes of bronze. You will gore like a bull [. . . you will trample the peo]ples like mud of wheels. For God has established you as a sceptre. 28 Those who rule [. . . all the na]tions will serve you. He will make you strong by his holy Name. 29 He will be like a li[on . . .] the prey from you, with no-one to hunt it. Your steeds will scatter over (DSST, 433).
This lovely blessing of the “Prince of the congregation” forms part of the Collection of blessings included in the same manuscript that originally contained the Rule of the Community and the Rule of the Congregation.18 The blessing collects together the echoes from a whole series of texts which play an important role in the development of later messianic ideas, such as Numbers 24:17 and Genesis 49:9–10. But there is no doubt that Isaiah 11:1–5 provides the author with most of his ideas and expressions (Isaiah 11:4 in lines 21–22 and 24–25; Isaiah 1:2 in line 25; Isaiah 11:5 in line 26). The long introduction which precedes the blessing proper (lines 20–23) where the figure of the “Prince of the congregation” is described as the instrument chosen by God to “establish the kingdom of his people for ever” shows clearly that he is a traditional Messiah-king, although the technical term is not used. A conclusion which the very content of the blessing confirms in full: the twofold reference to the sceptre underlines its “royal” character and the references to Isaiah 11:1–5 stresses its davidic origin; his military functions are to the fore and stressed by the reference to Micah 4:13 in line 26 and all the nations end by submitting to him. These elements agree with those we have found in the preceding texts. The new contribution of this blessing consists in presenting us with the hoped for “Messiah” in function of the eschatological community. This detail appears in the actual title by which he is called, “Prince of the congregation,” a title which places him in direct relationship with the community of the last times. It also appears in the first of the functions assigned to him: to renew the covenant of the community through him.
In the preserved text of 1QSb there is no explicit mention of any other messianic figure. However, this could be due to the gaps in the text, so that from this fact no conclusion can be drawn. We possess remains of a blessing clearly intended for blessing “the priests, sons of Zadok” (III 22). It is also certainly possible, as the editor suggests, that the blessing partially preserved in II 1–III 21 was destined for the High Priest of the end of days, the Messiah of Aaron or priestly Messiah.
In 1QSb, the identification of the “Prince of the congregation” as the “shoot of David” is implicit. Therefore, it could be disputed. Fortunately, this identification is explicit in the following text, a text still partly unpublished but which has received great publicity recently. It is fragment 5 of 4Q285.
The work from which this fragment comes has been preserved in two copies19 and was known as Berakhot Milhamah. It is quite possible, though, that both copies come from the lost ending to the War Scroll, known through copies from Cave 1 and Cave 4. The general content of the preserved fragments, the reference in both to the destruction of the Kittim, the mention of the archangels Gabriel and Michael and the allusions to the “Prince of the congregation,”20 are so many indications in this direction. Whether or not the two compositions are identical, it is certain that fragment 5 of 4Q285 is of interest for our topic.
The fragment was presented by professors R. Eisenman and M. Wise in the press, in November 1991, as containing the death of the Messiah and so providing a perfect parallel to the Christian idea and to the later rabbinic concept of the Messiah, Joseph’s son, who dies in an eschatological battle. A later article by G. Vermes21 provided the first scholarly analysis of the text, to which J. D. Tabor replied later.22 The text in question can be translated as follows:
1 [. . . as] the Prophet Isaiah [said] (10:34): “[The most massive of the] 2 [forest] shall be cut [with iron and Lebanon, with its magnificence,] will fall. A shoot will emerge from the stump of Jesse [. . .] 3 [. . .] the bud of David will go into battle with [. . .] 4 [. . .] and the Prince of the Congregation will kill him, the sh[oot of David . . .] 5 [. . .] and with wounds. And a priest will command [. . .] 6 [. . .] the destruction of the Kittim [. . .] (DSST, 124).
The debate evidently centres on the interpretation of line 4 and is due both to the fragmentary nature of the text and to the very ambiguity of the Hebrew expression used. The hiphil form used can be vocalised as a third person plural (they will kill) or as a third person singular with a suffix (he will kill him). The use of a verb in the plural in line 3 could favour understanding the verb as a plural, assuming continuity between the two. However, the lacuna and the presence in line 5 of a verb in the singular lessen the force of this argument. On the other hand, the absence of the object marker (et in Hebrew) before “Prince of the congregation” clearly counsels considering “Prince of the congregation” as the subject of the verb, although this is not a decisive argument either. Ultimately, only the context can assist us in deciding between the two grammatically possible interpretations. However, this context does not leave any doubt at all about the meaning of the clause.
In the text from Isaiah which the author quotes exactly, the death of the “shoot of David” is not announced. Rather, that it will be plainly he who will judge and kill the wicked. The Qumran interpretation of this biblical text in 4Q161, which we cited above, is even more important. There, the “Prince of the congregation” is mentioned in column II 15 and his victorious character is also stressed and “Lebanon” and “the most massive of the forest” are interpreted as meaning the Kittim who are placed in his hand (col. III 1–8). We have seen the same victorious exaltation of the “Prince of the congregation” in 1QSb, which also uses the text from Isaiah and it also appears in the other Qumran allusions to that person. In the same way, the reference to the destruction of the Kittim in line 6 places us clearly in the perspective of the War Scroll and of the final victory over the powers of evil. This indicates that the interpretation according to which it is the “Prince of the congregation” who kills his foe is the one which fits best the original biblical text and the other interpretations of this text in the Qumran writings. This best explains all the elements preserved and is supplied with convincing parallels in other related texts.
On the other hand, the idea of the death of this “Prince of the congregation” at the hands of his eschatological foe is not documented in any other Qumran text dealing with the davidic “Messiah,” or in any other of the Qumran texts mentioning the “Prince of the congregation.” The allusion to the death of the “Anointed” in Daniel 9:25–26 or the allusions to the “Suffering Servant” of Isaiah 40–45 play no role. Accordingly, we must conclude that the death of the “Messiah” is contextually alien to the tone of our text.
This new text supplies us in a simple and tangible way with the detail that the victory of the “Messiah son of David” will include the destruction of his eschatological foe in the war of the end of times. And the definite proof that in the Qumran texts the messianic figure of the “Prince of the congregation”23 is the same as the “shoot of David,” that is, the traditional “Messiah-king.”
Another text which could refer to the same messianic figure has been published recently by E. Puech.24 It is a fascinating text although its interpretation is not without problems. The manuscript had been described by J. Starcky in 1956: “Un beau texte mentionne le Messie, mais les bienfaits du salut eschatologique, évoqués d’après Is XLss et Psalms CXLVI, sont attribués directement à Adonai” [“A lovely text mentions the Messiah, but the benefits of eschatological salvation evoked, according to Isaiah 40ff. and Psalm 146, are attributed directly to Adonai”].25 The reference to the “Messiah” appears in the best preserved fragment, frag. 2, col. II:
1 [for the heav]ens and the earth will listen to his Messiah, 2 [and all] that is in them will not turn away from the holy precepts. 3 Be encouraged, you who are seeking the Lord in his service! Blank 4 Will you not, perhaps, encounter the Lord in it, all those who hope in their heart? 5 For the Lord will observe the devout, and call the just by name, 6 and upon the poor he will place his spirit, and the faithful he will renew with his strength. 7 For he will honour the devout upon the throne of eternal royalty, 8 freeing prisoners, giving sight to the blind, straightening out the twisted. 9 Ever shall I cling to those who hope. In his mercy he will jud[ge,] 10 and from no-one shall the fruit [of] good [deeds] be delayed, 11 and the Lord will perform marvellous acts such as have not existed, just as he sa[id] 12 for he will heal the badly wounded and will make the dead live, he will proclaim good news to the meek 13 give lavishly [to the need]y, lead the exiled and enrich the hungry. 14 [. . .] and all [. . .] (DSST, 394).
The first problem which the text presents is that of determining whether the first line refers to one “Messiah” (as we have translated) or to several. The Hebrew text clearly reads lemesiho, but as the editor notes, in Qumran Hebrew the form could also be read as a plural (and in fact quite a number of scholars translate lemesiho of CD II 12 “his anointed ones” in the plural without correcting to lemesihy), which is why Pucch translates cautiously “His Messiah(s).” If I have opted conclusively for a translation in the singular, this is due to the presence of the same word in fragment 8,9, but in a form which is obviously plural26 and seems to denote the prophets (or, according to Puech, the priests). Also because the parallel in line 6 “his spirit . . . with his strength” seems to favour clearly the interpretation of the word in the singular with the suffix clearly referring to God.
The text, then, deals here with a single “Messiah.” It is not easy, though, to determine whether this person is the “Davidic Messiah” or another “messianic” figure, since the only thing the text tells us about him is that “the heavens and the earth will listen to him” and that in his era “all that is in them will not turn away from the precepts of the holy ones.”27 A fragmentary reference to his “sceptre” in the next column (frag. 2 III 6) could point us towards the “royal Messiah.” However, partly the reading is uncertain and partly there is no way of proving that this person is the same as the “Messiah” of II 1.28 The only indication I find in the text to identify this “Messiah” with the “Prince of the congregation” is that the horizon of eschatological salvation which the Lord achieves during his age seems to be limited to the eschatological congregation, the assembly of the faithful in the last times. It is certain that nearly all the formulas used are rooted in the bible, but the whole set of promises is certainly limited to those who seek the Lord, hope in him and persevere in his service. In themselves these expressions can of course refer to all the faithful of Israel. However, there is a twofold mention of the “devout” (the hasidim who will be rewarded with the “throne of eternal royalty”) which frames the references derived from Psalm 146. And, one of the actions of this messianic age is precisely the elimination of physical obstacles which hinder belonging to the Community. These two factors seem to indicate that the horizon of the eschatological salvation which the Lord achieves in the age of his “Messiah” is limited to the members of the eschatological congregation. This could indicate that in our text the simple title “Messiah” was used as a reference to the “davidic Messiah,” the “Prince of the congregation,” whom the 1QSb presents in strict relationship to the congregation.
The only study of this manuscript which has appeared so far29 considers that our text does in fact speak of the davidic “Messiah.” No other argument is adduced except the assertion (clearly false) that in Qumran (with the possible exception of 1QS) only one “Messiah” was hoped for. According to the authors of this study, the person described in 4Q521 would be the direct antecedent to the Christian concept of the “Messiah.” Their argument is twofold. The supposition that 4Q521 presents the “Messiah” raising the dead. And the parallel to the expressions in line 12 of Matthew 11:4–5 and Luke 7:22–23, the reply to the Baptist’s embassy, in which are described the signs of the arrival of the “Messiah.” This second statement is correct inasmuch as the combination in a single phrase of the resurrection of the dead with the announcement of good news to the anawim, which comes from Isaiah 6:1, was not previously documented outside the New Testament. But the first supposition, which sees the “Messiah” as an agent of the portentous actions of eschatological salvation, seems completely mistaken and is simply the result of reading the manuscript incorrectly.
In line 10 they read “and [in his good]ness [for ever. His] Holy [Messiah] will not delay [in coming],” supporting their reconstruction with the use of this same expression in 1Q30. However, both the readings “and in his goodness” and “Holy” are palaeographically impossible; the strokes purported to be there do not match the traces preserved. Just as false is their reading “his work” in line 11, which besides being syntactically odd, deprives the following verbs of a subject. With the editor, read “he will do.”
WiseTabor feel obliged to accept that the Lord is the agent of the deeds announced in lines 5–9 (among which are found some of the elements that also appear in the New Testament texts, such as the cure of the blind men), but they suppose a change of subject starting from line 10. For that they insert a mention of the “Messiah”30 in the lacuna of line 10. And in line 11 they insert an idea which not only does not appear in the text if read correctly, it is even contrary to the thought of the whole Hebrew Bible: the idea that there are wonderful actions (in the positive sense) which are not the work of the Lord. Wise-Tabor translate the lines in question as follows: “(10) a[nd in His] go[odness forever. His] holy [Messiah] will not be slow [in coming.] (11) And as for the wonders that were not the work of the Lord, when he (i.e. the Messiah) [come]s (12) then he will heal the sick, resurrect the dead, and to the poor announce glad tidings.” However all these speculations are unnecessary if the text is read correctly. In it, the Messiah does not raise up the dead, nor are there wonderful deeds which are not the work of God. What the text teaches us is that in the final epoch, in the time of the “Messiah,” God will perform wonderful deeds as he has promised and the resurrection of the dead (those who have been faithful, of course31) will be one of the wonderful deeds.
These texts are sufficient proof for us that the hope in a future “Messiah,” heir to the davidic promises, which was to comprise the core of later rabbinic messianism, was very much present in the thought of the Qumran community. However, unlike later messianism, the messianic hopes of the community were not limited to this figure of the Messiah-King, but at the same time several of the other potentially messianic figures of the Old Testament were developed.
2 Priestly Messianism
Together with the King, the High Priest is one of the main individuals to receive an “anointing” in the Hebrew Bible. There is nothing unusual, then, that within the Old Testament we already find indications of the possible development of these references to the High Priest as “anointed one”—in the course of hope in a priestly agent of salvation in the eschatological era—together with the “anointed one” of royal character. It is in this sense, I think, that the vision of Zecariah 3 and its development in Zecariah 6:9–14 must be interpreted. In the first text, the future messianic age is clearly dominated by the figure of the High Priest Joshua, while the “shoot” only appears in passing and in a subordinate role. Neither of these two characters therefore is explicitly called “Messiah,” but both texts are open to such an interpretation. As we will see further on, this interpretation will be developed within the Qumran community into a two-headed messianism. However, a recently published text enables us to glimpse an independent development of the hope in the coming of the “priestly Messiah” as an agent of salvation at the end of times.
It is an Aramaic text, one of the copies of the Testament of Levi, recently published by E. Puech,32 which contains interesting parallels to chapter 19 of the Greek Testament of Levi included in the Testaments of the XII Patriarchs. From what can be deduced from the remains preserved, the protagonist of the work (probably the patriarch Levi, although it cannot be completely excluded that it is Jacob speaking to Levi) speaks to his descendants in a series of exhortations. He also relates to them some of the visions which have been revealed to him. In one of them, he tells them of the coming of a mysterious person. Although the text is hopelessly fragmentary it is of special interest since it seems to evoke the figure of a “priestly Messiah.” This “Messiah” is described with the features of the Suffering Servant of Isaiah, as J. Starcky indicated in his first description of the manuscript.33 The two longest and most important fragments of this new text can be translated as follows:
1 [. . .] the sons of the generation [. . .] 2 [. . .] his wisdom. And he will atone for all the children of his generation, and he will be sent to all the children of 3 his people. His word is like the word of the heavens, and his teaching, according to the will of God. His eternal sun will shine 4 and his fire will burn in all the ends of the earth; above the darkness his sun will shine. Then, darkness will vanish 5 from the earth, and gloom from the globe. They will utter many words against him, and an abundance of 6 lies; they will fabricate fables against him, and utter every kind of disparagement against him. His generation will change the evil, 7 and [. . .] established in deceit and in violence. The people will go astray in his days and they will be bewildered (DSST, 270).
The preserved text does not actually call this person “Messiah.” In spite of that, and in spite of the fragmentary condition in which the text has reached us, there is no doubt that it is possible to recognise the person described as a messianic figure whose coming is announced in the future. That this future is the eschatological future is evident since it is described as the period of the kingdom of light. During it, darkness will vanish from the globe, but a section of the people will remain in error and directly oppose this emissary. The priestly character of this figure is indicated expressly by his atoning character: “And he will atone for all the children of his generation.” This same person will clearly have to teach and will possess supreme wisdom since “His word is like the word of the heavens.”
The agreement of the person thus described with the “Messiah-priest” described in chapter 18 of the Greek Testament of Levi is surprising.34 At least it shows us that the presence of this priestly figure in the Testaments of the XII Patriarchs should not simply be ascribed to interpolations or Christian influence. Rather, it is a development which exists already within Judaism. This text also shows us that the portrayal of this “Messiah-priest” with the features of the “Suffering Servant” of Deutero-Isaiah is not an innovation of purely Christian origin either, but the result of previous developments. Our text stresses that although he would be sent “to all the sons of his people,” the opposition to this figure, “light of the nations” (Isaiah 42:6) would be great: “They will utter many words against him, and an abundance of lies; they will fabricate fables against him, and utter every kind of disparagement against him” (compare Isaiah 50:6–8; 53:2–10). What is more, according to the editor, it cannot be excluded that the Aramaic text even contained the idea of the violent death of this “Messiah-priest.” In other words, this opposition would reach its ultimate outcome as in Isaiah 53. His argument comes from the other fairly extensive fragment of the work, in which possible allusions to a violent death by crucifixion are found. However, to me this interpretation seems problematic. The fragment in question can be translated as follows:
2 Do not mourn for him [. . .] and do not [. . .] 3 And God will notice the failings [. . .] the uncovered failings [. . .] 4 Examine, ask and know what the dove has asked; do not punish one weakened because of exhaustion and from being uncertain a[ll . . .] 5 do not bring the nail near him. And you will establish for your father a name of joy, and for your brothers you will make a tested foundation rise. 6 You will see it and rejoice in eternal light. And you will not be of the enemy. Blank 7 Blank (DSST, 270).
The first lines are very confused and lines 4 and 5 present problems both of reading and of interpretation. The reading we have translated as “being uncertain” and the editor as “being hanged” is not certain and the interpretation of the previously unknown Aramaic word, which we translate “nail,” is not definite. In addition, it seems impossible to prove that both fragments refer to the same person. What really is clear is that both fragments are composed in a distinctive style and that the second is direct address. Its admonishing character, the formula used, and the fact that the Blank of line 6 is followed by a completely blank line suggests that this fragment has actually preserved the end of the work, or at least, the end of a large section. The exhortation not to mourn could be understood perfectly before the imminent death of the Patriarch, just as the final promise could refer to his descendant. Whatever might be the possible allusion to the death of the expected “Messiah-priest,” the identification of this figure with the “Servant” of Isaiah seems confirmed by the parallels indicated in fragment 9. In any case, the idea that the eventual death of the “Messiah-priest” could have an atoning role, as Christian tradition attributes to the death of the “Servant,” is excluded from our text since the atonement he achieves (frag. 9 II 2) remains in the perspective of the cult.
As far as I know, this is the only text which in the preserved sections deals with the priestly “Messiah” alone. However, many other texts refer to this figure when speaking of a two-fold messianism. This is the two-headed messianism in which we are presented with the “davidic or royal Messiah” and the “levitical or priestly Messiah” together. They are called the “Messiahs of Israel and of Aaron” respectively. Before going on to consider compositions which mention several “Messiahs,” however, we must present another text which refers to another type of “messianic” figure, a superhuman agent of eschatological salvation.
3 A Heavenly “Messiah”
The title of this paragraph could cause surprise and even seem contradictory. It is perfectly understandable that hope in a superhuman agent of eschatological salvation could have developed in the Judaism of the period. To consider this agent of eschatological salvation as a “Messiah” could appear to be not just an unacceptable broadening of the concept of “Messiah” but even a broadening which empties the concept of “Messiah” of its deepest characteristic, its human dimension. It is difficult enough to imagine the possibility of a superhuman person being considered as “anointed” (angels certainly did not receive an anointing). Even more, the human nature of the “Messiahs” which we have seen so far, should be strongly stressed both in the davidic descendance of the “Messiah-king” and in the cultic perspective in which the “Messiah-priest” performs his atonement. If, in addition, it is accepted that the technical term “anointed” does not occur in the text in question, the attempt to consider it as “messianic” could seem to be somewhat artificial, and the semantic widening of the term “Messiah” so implied as meaningless.
And yet it seems difficult to avoid using the adjective “messianic” to characterise the hero of this text, since the functions attributed to him really are “messianic” functions. Other Jewish writings, not from Qumran, describing a superhuman agent of eschatological salvation, use the technical term “Messiah” as one of the names for the saving figure which they describe. This proves that the widening of the semantic field of “Messiah” had already taken place in the Judaism of the period and forces us not to exclude these texts a priori, under pain of ignoring one of the possible developments of “messianic” hope reflected in the manuscripts preserved. The texts I am referring to are, of course, The Parables of Enoch and IV Esdras. The first occasionally uses the term “Messiah” (in 48:10 and 52:4) together with the more common titles of “Chosen One” and above all “Son of Man”35 to denote an existing, transcendental figure of celestial origin. In the vision included in chapter 13 by the author of IV Esdras, a person “like a man,” called “Messiah” in 7:28 and 12:32 and more often “son/ servant of God,” is clearly presented also as an existing, transcendental person of celestial origin.36 Both figures are called “Messiah” in these texts, in spite of their superhuman nature and in spite of being described with images traditionally associated with the divinity. Accordingly, as Collins correctly observes,37 “the understanding of ‘messiah’ is thereby qualified.” These parallels in two compositions, of which the Jewish origin does not seem to be doubted, justifies our inclusion of the following text in our study.
A few lines of this text have been known for quite some time38 and have been extensively studied.39 However, the recent complete publication of the fragment40 which informs us of the last five lines of column II allows a fuller analysis. It is the only fragment preserved of an Aramaic composition dated palaeographically to the first half of the 1st century. This fragment comes from the end of a leather leaf and preserves traces of sewing to the following sheet; in it is preserved a complete column of nine lines and approximately half of the preceding column. The text can be translated as follows:
4Q246 col. l
1[. . .] settled upon him and he fell before the throne 2 [. . .] eternal king. You are angry and your years 3 [. . .] they will see you, and all shall come for ever. 4 [. . .] great, oppression will come upon the earth 5 [. . .] and great slaughter in the city 6 [. . .] king of Assyria and of Egypt 7 [. . .] and he will be great over the earth 8 [. . .] they will do, and all will serve 9 [. . .] great will he be called and he will be designated by his name (DSST, 138).
1He will be called son pf God, and they will call him son of the Most High. Like the sparks 2 of a vision, so will their kingdom be; they will rule several years over 3 the earth and crush everything; a people will crush another people, and a city another city. 4 Blank Until the people of God arises and makes everyone rest from the sword. 5 His kingdom will be an eternal kingdom, and all his paths in truth and uprigh[tness]. 6 The earth (will be) in truth and all will make peace. The sword will cease in the earth, 7 and all the cities will pay him homage. He is a great God among the gods . 8 He will make war with him; he will place the peoples in his hand and cast away everyone before him. 9 His kingdom will be an eternal kingdom, and all the abysses (DSST, 138).
I described the contents of the text as known in 1983:
The text tells us that someone (a seer?) falls down in front of a king’s throne and addresses him. He describes to him the evils to come, among which reference to Assyria and Egypt play an important role. Even more important will be the apparition of a mysterious person to whom will be given the titles of “son of God” and “son of the Most High,” a person who “will be great upon the earth” and whom “all will serve.” His appearance will be followed by tribulations, but these will be as fleeting as a spark and will only last “until the people of God arises.” The outcome will be the end of war, an eternal kingdom in which all will make peace, cities will be conquered, because the great God will be with him (with his people?) and he will make all his enemies subject to him.41
First I set out the interpretations of Milik (who identified the mysterious person as Alexander Balas), Fitzmyer (who applied the titles to a royal but nonmessianic person, heir to David’s throne) and Flusser (who saw a reference to Antichrist in this mysterious person) and the reasons why they seemed insufficient. I then proposed understanding the person to which the text refers as an “Eschatological liberator” of angelic, that is to say, nonhuman nature, a figure similar in functions to those which 11QMelch ascribes to Melchizedek or 1QM to the “Prince of Light” or to the archangel Michael. E. Puech, the editor of the whole text, thinks that the preserved text does not allow definitive resolution between an “historicizing” interpretation like Milik’s and a “messianic” interpretation, towards which his preferences seem inclined. Puech seems to exclude my interpretation for two reasons. It is not certain that 4Q246 is a composition of Qumran origin and because, in his opinion, “the ‘heavenly’ figures who are the mediators of salvation in ancient Judaism, Enoch, Elijah, Melkizedek or the Son of God have not, strictly speaking, received the title of ‘messiah.’ “42 However, as we have indicated, this statement is not completely correct. Also, the parallels I noted with ideas contained in other Qumran writings, may not be determinative in assigning a sectarian origin to the composition, but do at least make it completely compatible with the thought of the Qumran group.
I remain convinced, then, that my interpretation of the first fragmentary column and of the first four lines of column II continues to be the best to explain the elements preserved. My description of the person in question as “angelic” was based on the parallel with other non-human figures of the Qumran texts. Perhaps it would be more correct to denote this superhuman figure simply as “heavenly.” And the new lines now available confirm and emphasise this conclusion, since they describe this figure with the features of Daniel’s “Son of Man.”43 The quotations from Daniel 7 are especially striking. “His kingdom will be an eternal kingdom” of column II 5 comes from Daniel 7:27 where it is applied to the “people of the holy ones of the Most High.” “His kingdom will be an eternal kingdom” of column II 9 comes from Daniel 7:14, where it is applied to the “Son of Man.” In the biblical text, the parallelism of both expressions in the vision and in its explanation could favour the interpretation of the “Son of Man” as a collective figure. The author of our composition, however, seems to attribute both expressions to the mysterious protagonist of the narrative, whom he considers without any doubt whatever as an individual, so anticipating the clear interpretation as an individual we find in the Book of Parables.
The preserved text does not completely exclude the possibility that the third person pronominal suffixes it uses, beginning with column II 5, could refer to the people of God. In fact, biblical equivalents could be found for most of the expressions used, which refer sometimes to an individual person and sometimes to a person representing the people, or to the people. In spite of this ambiguity, though, the lines published recently incline me to modify the position I had adopted in 1983, attributing these pronouns to the “people of God.” I now adopt Puech’s interpretation who refers them clearly to the protagonist mentioned at the end of column I and at the beginning of column II.
Puech notes that “may he raise” [“qu’il relvèe”] can be read in column II 4 instead of “may (the people of God) rise” [“que se (re)lève le peuple de Dieu”], and “may he make all rest” [“qu’il fasse tout reposer”] instead of “all will rest” [“tout reposera”]. This enables line 4 to be understood as the climax of the period of crisis described beforehand, enables the lofty titles given to the protagonist to be understood, since the task he has to fulfil is to bring in the situation of eschatological peace, and it enables the particle used to be given its value of a limit.44 This interpretation is strengthened by the use of “he will judge” in column II 5, and by the statement of the cosmic dimension of his kingdom in column II 9.
This reading of the text is strengthened by the way in which the sentence in question is set out in the manuscript. The Blank which comes before mention of the “people of God” seems intended to emphasise that this situation of eschatological peace is precisely the conclusion of the situation described previously and is due to the activity of the protagonist, to whom the lofty titles “son of God” and “son of the Most High” are given. The Blank which follows this expression on the same line removes the need to make a whole series of suffixes in the following lines refer to the nearest antecedent (“the people of God,” the object of the preceding phrase). They can refer to the subject of the phrase, the “son of God” and “son of the Most High.”
Understood in this way, 4Q246 describes an eschatological liberator, a heavenly being similar to the “Son of Man” of Daniel 7, called “son of God” and “son of the Most High.” He will be the agent to bring eschatological salvation, judge all the earth, conquer all the kings through God’s power and rule over the whole universe.
This messianic interpretation of the “eschatological liberator” of 4Q246 which I proposed in 1983 agrees completely with the “messianic” interpretation proposed by Puech as an alternative to Milik’s “historicising” interpretation (which he accepts as equally valid). Although Puech insists on the royal character and on the Davidic lineage of this person he ends by considering this “Messiah” as a special divinised “Messiah,” similar to the Melchizedek of 11QMelch and the heavenly Son of Man.45 And this is precisely the element which has to be emphasised here. In Qumran together with a “Messiah-king” and a “Messiah-priest” the coming of an agent of eschatological salvation was expected (who is not explicitly referred to as “Messiah” in the text) as exalted as the pre-existent “Son of Man” of the Parables of Enoch or like the “Messiah” of IV Esdras.
This same type of saviour figure of superhuman nature is found in another text (11QMelch), where the title “Messiah of the Spirit” has been partially preserved. However, this title seems to refer to the “messianic” figure of the eschatological prophet, mentioned together with the eschatological deliverer of heavenly nature who is Melchizedek. Therefore, this text must be considered among those which tell us of several messianic figures. We will discuss it briefly in what follows.
II Texts which Mention Several Messianic Figures
1 Two “Messiahs”: the “Messiahs of Aaron and Israel”
Perhaps the most studied and best known element of Qumran messianism is its two-headed messianism: the hope in a double “Messiah,” “the Messiah of Aaron” and the “Messiah of Israel.” The key text comes from the Rule of the Community.46
9 They should not depart from any counsel of the law in order to walk 10 in complete stubbornness of their heart, but instead shall be ruled by the first directives which the men of the Community began to be taught 11 until the prophet comes, and the Messiahs of Aaron and Israel. Blank (DSST, 13–14).
The text is crystal clear and expresses without any doubt the hope, within the Qumran community, in the future coming of the two “anointed ones” (in the plural). The “Messiah of Aaron” and the “Messiah of Israel,” two figures who apparently correspond to the “priestly Messiah” and the “royal Messiah” whom we came across as separate figures in the preceding texts. Together with them, and distinct from both “Messiahs,” there was hope in the eschatological future for the coming of another person: a prophet. The only thing the text tells us about these three figures is the hope in their coming. It tells us nothing about their functions, about the biblical basis which allowed their hope to develop, their possible identification with other titles used in the texts to give these figures a name. The exception is the priestly character implied in the provenance “from Aaron” of one of them and of the non-priestly character of the other who comes “from Israel.” In spite of its laconic nature, this text is fundamental since it allows us to clarify a whole series of expressions which mention the “anointed one” (in the singular) of Aaron and of Israel as referring not to a single “Messiah,” priest and king at the same time, but to two “Messiahs”: a “Messiah-priest” and a “lay-Messiah.”
There has been much discussion about the origin of this hope in a double “Messiah,” who also appears in the Testaments of the XII Patriarchs,47 especially after it was known that in the oldest copy of the Rule of the Community (4QSe) the passage in question does not occur.48 In that manuscript, the text goes straight from VIII 15 to IX 12.49 It is impossible, though, to know whether it is an accidental omission by the copyist of something that was there in the original work, or of a later addition inserted into the copy from Cave 1. In any case, the presence of this passage in the manuscript of 1QS is enough for our purpose. It proves that this hope in a double “Messiah” existed at Qumran and guarantees that the same hope is found reflected in the other texts which they use to express it less clearly.
The text does not allow us to determine whether the first figure it introduces—a prophet—does or does not have “messianic” features. Its contrast to the “Messiahs” seems rather to indicate the opposite. But other texts which we will see later enable us to determine that this expected prophet was also considered a “messianic” figure. Of the “messianic” nature of the “Messiahs of Aaron and Israel” there can be absolutely no doubt. This messianic character is even more obvious in the other texts in the Damascus Document50 which mention these two figures, although in none of these references is the word “Messiah” used in the plural.
22 Blank And this is the rule of the assembly 23 [of the ca]mps. Those who walk in them, in the time of wickedness until there arises the messiah of Aaron 1 and Israel, they shall be ten in number as a minimum to (form) thousands, hundreds, fifties 2 and tens (CD XII 22–XIII 2; DSST, 43).
Blank And this is the exact interpretation of the regulations by which [they shall be ruled] 19 [until there arises the messiah] of Aaron and Israel.51 He shall atone for their sins [. . . pardon, and guilt] (CD XIV 18–19; DSST, 44).
These shall escape in the age of the visitation; but those that remain shall be delivered up to the sword when there comes the messiah 11 of Aaron and Israel (CD XIX 10–11; DSST, 45).
And thus, all the men who entered the new 34 covenant in the land of Damascus and turned and betrayed and departed from the well of living waters, 35 shall not be counted in the assembly of the people and shall not be inscribed in their [lis]ts, from the day of the session 1 of the unique Teacher until there arises the messiah of Aaron and Israel. Blank (CD XIX 33– XX 1; DSST, 46).
As we have indicated, these four texts use one somewhat ambiguous expression: “Messiah of Aaron and Israel” in CD XII 23,52 XIV 19 and XIX 10, and “Messiah of Aaron and of Israel” in CD XX 1, an expression which can be translated both by “Messiah of Aaron and of Israel” and by “Messiah of Aaron and (Messiah) of Israel.” Although the second expression can be interpreted more easily as referring to two different persons,53 the possibility of interpreting both phrases as referring to a single person who comes from Aaron and Israel at the same time, is not only an actual possibility but it is also strengthened by the fact that in CD IX 19 the expression is followed by a verb in the singular. Accordingly, several scholars have made the “Messiah” the subject of the verb. And since the act is one of atonement, they have concluded that the figure indicated will be that of the “priestly Messiah” who will atone for the sins of the people.54 But the text already cited, 1QS IX 11, resolves the ambiguity of the Hebrew expression. It proves that in all these cases the most likely interpretation is one which sees in these phrases a reference to the two “Messiahs” expected by the community.55
In these four texts, the coming of these persons is expected for the “time of wickedness” and “the age of the visitation,” two expressions which leave no doubt at all about the eschatological perspective in which the hope in their arrival is placed. The texts tell us hardly anything directly about the functions of these persons. The first and fourth references place his coming in relation to the structure and organization of the community in the eschatological period. The second reference relates it to the exact interpretation of the regulations; the third, to the different fates, salvation or damnation, which will befall the faithful or the unfaithful when they come. Finally, the fourth reference suggests that their coming is expected (shortly) after the disappearance of the “Unique Teacher,” the historical figure we know as the “Teacher of Righteousness,” and already a figure of the past at the time when this version of the Damascus Document was edited.
We can deduce more details about his functions from two texts from another of the manuscripts which seem to mention both figures together, the Rule of the Congregation.56
11 This is the assembly of famous men, [those summoned to] the gathering of the community council, when [God] begets 12 the Messiah with them. [The] chief [priest] of the all the congregation of Israel shall enter, and all 13 [his brothers, the sons] of Aaron, the priests [summoned] to the assembly, the famous men, and they shall sit 14 befo[re him, each one] according to his dignity. After, [the Me]ssiah of Israel shall ent[er] and before him shall sit the chiefs 15 [of the clans of Israel, each] one according to his dignity, according to their [positions] in their camps and in their marches (1QSa II 11–14; DSST, 127).
17 And [when] they gather at the table of community [or to drink] the new wine, and the table of 18 community is prepared [and] the new wine [is mixed] for drinking, [no-one should stretch out] his hand to the first-fruit of the bread 19 and of the [new wine] before the priest, for [he is the one who bl]esses the first-fruit of bread 20 and of the new wine [and stretches out] his hand towards the bread before them. Afterwards, the Messiah of Israel shall stretch out his hand 21 towards the bread. [And after, he shall] bless all the congregation of the community, each [one according to] his dignity. And in accordance with this regulation they shall act 22 at each me[al, when] at least ten m[en are gat]hered. Blank (1QSa II 17–22; DSST, 127–128).
These two fragments mention a “priest” and the “Messiah of Israel” as two clearly distinct figures. About the “Messiah” it apparently tells us that God “begets” him with them. The syntax is strange and the reading uncertain; but the editor is reliable in as much as either “will beget” or “will cause to be born” can be read in the manuscript.57 This means that our text must include the ideas of Psalm 2:7, applying them to the “divine” origin of the “Messiah.” Due to a lacuna, it is not possible to know for certain whether it is a question of the “anointed [priest]” (as Kuhn proposes, identifying him with the Messiah of Aaron) or of an absolute use of the “Messiah” which could instead correspond to the person which the following text denotes as “Messiah of Israel.” The uncertainties of the text prevent us from attaching great weight to this person about whom the opinions of scholars are so divided.
Fortunately, there is more agreement about the identity of the priest in question. Most of the researchers recognise in him the “High Priest” of the eschatological period, whom they identify with the “Messiah of Aaron.” The eschatological period is involved, as shown by the text itself, indicating that they are regulations “for the end of times” (col. I 1). The “priest” is the High Priest, as is also evident in the text which defines him as “chief of the whole congregation of Israel.” This High Priest of the eschatological period is the same figure we met in the preceding texts, called “Messiah of Aaron.” That is a logical deduction based on his superiority over the “Messiah of Israel” who is mentioned next, a superiority already indicated in the very formula in which they both appear together: “Messiah of Aaron and of Israel.”58 Our text emphasises the connection of this messianic figure with the congregation. It also emphasises his superior function both in relation to the other sons of Aaron, the priests, and especially the non-priestly members of the community, including the “Messiah of Israel.” Both in the assemblies and in the banquet it is he who presides and occupies the most eminent position. Concerning the “Messiah of Israel” these texts emphasise his subordinate position to the priest and his military character, indicated in the terminology used which depends on Numbers and agrees with 1QM.
Another possible allusion to the functions of both “Messiahs” could be provided by 4Q375 and 4Q376, although the meaning of these two texts is ambiguous and problematic, and their interpretation is very uncertain.
Both manuscripts were published by J. Strugnell,59 who considers them to be two possible copies of a single composition. 4Q376 is certainly another copy of the work known from several fragments from Cave 1 (1Q29), and it seems reasonable to consider these three manuscripts as copies of the same composition. In addition, the editor presents certain arguments from style in favour of identifying the composition represented in these three texts with the Moses apocryphon known as Words of Moses (1Q22) which would provide the narrative framework of the composition. However, this seems too problematic and in any case is not important for our purpose. What could really be important is the reference in 4Q375 1 I 9 to “the anointed priest upon whose head the oil of anointing has been poured.” Similarly, the mention in 4Q376 1 III 1 of “the Prince who is over the whole congregation” in a clear military context, and in connection with “the anointed priest” mentioned in the first column of this manuscript (4Q376 1 I 1).
If 4Q375 and 4Q376 really were two copies of the same composition; if the “Prince of the whole congregation” had the same meaning in this work as in all the other Qumran texts where the expression is used and where it always denotes the “davidic Messiah”; and if it could be shown that this person is located in an eschatological context, these fragments would be very interesting for this study on messianic ideas. This would allow an allusion both to the High Priest and to the “priestly Messiah” to be seen in the “anointed priest upon whose head the oil of anointing has been poured.” And in the “Prophet” an allusion to the eschatological Prophet. Further, the complex procedure by which the High Priest determines whether the prophet is true or false by means of a sacrificial rite, the investigation of hidden precepts and the oracular use of the Urim could be interpreted as a process of verifying whether in fact the prophet is the eschatological Prophet or not and not merely whether the prophet is true or false.
However to me it seems impossible to prove definitively the conditions upon which this interpretation rests.60 There is no clear indication that both texts are located in an eschatological perspective. The texts can be explained perfectly as an apocryphon in which in pure deuteronomistic language the High Priest judges a false prophet who has the backing of a whole tribe which considers him as a trustworthy prophet. The process used is different from what is prescribed in Deuteronomy 13 and 18, comprising an atonement ceremony, the investigation of the divine precepts which have been hidden from the people and the oracular use of the Urim. And “the Prince of the whole congregation” could only be a modification of the plural form “princes of the congregation” of Exodus 16:22, Numbers 4:34, 16:2, 31:33, 32:2 and Joshua 9:15,18. Accordingly, for the moment this fascinating text must remain outside the discussion of “messianism.”
2 Two “Messiahs”: the “Prince of the Congregation” and the “Interpreter of the Law”
Together with texts which mention the two “Messiahs” of Aaron and of Israel we find others which also mention two messianic figures called by other names. We must try and establish their identity.
2.1 CD VII 18–2161
18 . . . Blank And the star is the Interpreter of the law 19 who will come to Damascus as is written: (Numbers 24:13) “A star moves out of Jacob, and a sceptre arises 20 out of Israel.” The sceptre is the prince of the whole congregation and when he rises he will destroy 21 all the sons of Seth. Blank (DSST, 38).
The “Prince of the whole congregation” is familiar to us and apart from 4Q376, where his character cannot be determined, always denotes a “messianic” figure. As in the previous texts, here he is equated with the sceptre. There is no doubt, therefore, about his identity with the “Messiah-king,” the davidic “Messiah” of Jewish tradition and the “Messiah of Israel” of the other texts where the davidic character of such titles is muted. This text only tells us about the one who “will destroy all the sons of Seth,” using the expression of Numbers 24:17, but without specifying its meaning (which in the original biblical text is not very clear either). But who is the “Interpreter of the Law” who here appears in parallel with him? Is he a figure from the past or from the future?
The ambiguity of the text is well known and, ultimately, everything depends on the value of past or future given to the participle used. The authors who are convinced that in this Amos-Numbers Midrash only one messianic figure is spoken about62 consider the “Interpreter of the Law” as a figure from the past. Whereas, those who see in our text an allusion to two “messianic” figures see a figure of the future in this same “Interpreter of the Law,” contemporary with the “Prince of the whole congregation.”63
The strict parallelism between the two figures, the fact that both are interpreted starting from the same biblical text (to which later tradition was to give a clear messianic value) and, above all, the details which 4Q174 give us about this “Interpreter of the Law” who will come in the final times together with the “shoot of David,” a figure whom 4Q174 explicitly identifies with the “Prince of the congregation,” are enough, in my opinion, to resolve the ambiguity of the text in favour of the interpretation which sees reflected here hope in two messianic figures.
It seems more difficult to determine who this “Interpreter of the Laws” is. Two interpretations have been suggested. Starcky64 identified him with the expected eschatological prophet although this identification starts from a false premise, the non-separation of the two “Messiahs” of Aaron and of Israel in CD. The more prevalent opinion, following van der Woude,65 identifies this “Interpreter of the Law” with the “Messiah of Aaron.” I.e., the “priest-Messiah” who should be identified with the eschatological figure of Elijah. Van der Woude’s reasoning essentially is as follows. The “Interpreter of the Law” of the passage is a person from the future and thus distinct from the “Interpreter of the Law” who occurs in CD VI 7 and is a person from the past. This person is found in parallel with the “Prince of the whole congregation,” who is a messianic figure identical with the “Messiah of Israel,” so that he must also be a messianic figure. The title given him, “Interpreter of the Law,” is very general and can denote various figures, but the specification “who will come to Damascus” (meaning Qumran) is more significant. The clause comes from 1 Kings 19:15, where Elijah receives from God the order to go to Damascus to anoint the king of Syria, the king of Israel, and the prophet Elisha. In later tradition (attested in Justin, Dialog. 4966 and in the Karaite material collected by N. Wieder67) Elijah is portrayed as the eschatological High Priest who performs the anointing of the Messiah. In rabbinic tradition, Elijah is also portrayed as one who will resolve the halakhic problems the rabbis are unable to solve, when he returns at the end of times as a forerunner of the “Messiah.” This permits van der Woude to conclude that the “Interpreter of the Law” denotes Elijah whose coming is expected at the end of times. This figure is seen as a “priestly Messiah” and thus is identical with the “Messiah of Aaron” of the other Qumran texts.
My problem with this reasoning is that the two texts which mention the eschatological figure of the “Interpreter of the Law” tell us absolutely nothing about his priestly character; the features of “prophet” seem more characteristic of Elijah than those of “priest.” Accordingly, for very different reasons from those of Starcky, I feel more inclined to identify this messianic figure of the eschatological “Interpreter of the Law” with the messianic figure about whom we have not yet spoken. He is the “Prophet” expected at the end of times, whose identification with Elijah redivivus can be accepted without problems. The reasons for this inclination will be set out when dealing in more detail with this figure of the “eschatological Prophet.”
2.2 4Q174 (4QFlorilegium)
The other text which mentions these same two “messianic” figures is known as Florilegium.68
10 And “YHWH de[clares] to you that he will build you a house. I will raise up your seed after you and establish the throne of his kingdom 11 [for ev]er. I will be a father to him and he will be a son to me.” This (refers to the) “branch of David,” who will arise with the Interpreter of the law who 12 [will rise up] in Zi[on in] the last days, as it is written: “I will raise up the hut of David which has fallen,” This (refers to) “the hut of 13 David which has fallen,” who will arise to save Israel. Blank (DSST, 136).
This text refers to the “Interpreter of the Law” by name. Together with him it speaks about the “branch of David,” a familiar expression to denote the “Messiah-king,” named “Prince of the whole congregation” in the preceding text. His identity with the “Messiah of Israel” presents no problem. Apart from their future coming, it tells us nothing about both figures. The requirement that this coming would take place in “the last days” remains important since it stresses his clear eschatological character.
3 Two “Messiahs”: the “Heavenly Messiah” and the “Eschatological Prophet”
Another of the Qumran fragments in which the figure of a heavenly “Messiah” appears is a midrash of eschatological content, in which a heavenly person, an elohim, called Melchizedek, is the divine instrument of salvation and executes justice. The central part of the fragment (col. II 6–19) can be translated as follows:69
6 He (Melchizedek) will proclaim liberty for them, to free them from [the debt] of all their iniquities. And this will [happen] 7 in the first week of the jubilee which follows the ni[ne] jubilees. And the day [of atonem]ent is the end of the tenth jubilee 8 in which atonement will be made for all the sons of [God] and for the men of the lot of Melchizedek. [And on the heights] he will decla[re in their] favour according to their lots; for 9 it is the time of the “year of grace” for Melchizedek, to exa[lt in the tri]al the holy ones of God through the rule of judgment, as is written 10 about him in the songs of David, who said: “Elohim will stand up in the assem[bly of God,] in the midst of the gods he judges.” And about him he said: “Above it 11 return to the heights, God will judge the peoples.” As for what he sa[id: “How long will yo]u judge unjustly and show partiality to the wicked? Selah.” 12 Its interpretation concerns Belial and the spirits of his lot, who were rebels [all of them] turning aside from the commandments of God [to commit evil.] 13 But, Melchizedek will carry out the vengeance of God’s judges [on this day, and they shall be freed from the hands] of Belial and from the hands of all the sp[irits of his lot.] 14 To his aid (shall come) all “the gods of [justice”; he] is the [one who will prevail on this day over] all the sons of God, and he will pre[side over] this [assembly.] 15 This is the day of [peace about which God] spoke [of old through the words of Isa]iah the prophet, who said: “How beautiful 16 upon the mountains are the feet of the messenger who announces peace, of the mess[enger of good who announces salvation,] saying to Zion: “Your God [reigns.’ “] 17 Its interpretation: The mountains are the pro[phets . . .] 18 And the messenger is [the ano]inted of the spirit about whom Dan[iel] spoke [. . . and the messenger of] 19 good who announces salv[ation is the one about whom it is written that [. . .] (DSST, 139–140).
In spite of the uncertainty of the reconstructions, the broad lines of the content seem clear enough and are well known. Here, therefore, we only need to note the details which they give concerning the messianic figures to whom the text refers. The weave of the text is formed by Leviticus 25:8–13 concerning the jubilee year, Deuteronomy 15 concerning the year of release and Isaiah 61. The author also applies to Melchizedek, the protagonist, other texts from Isaiah, the Psalms and Daniel, the interpretation of which allows him to develop his ideas. The eschatological content is evident through the execution of justice and the deliverance from Belial. It is also evident because the whole is set specifically in the first week of the tenth jubilee, the final jubilee in his chronological system. In this context, the author ascribes three fundamental functions to this exalted figure: to be an avenging judge (with reference to Psalms 82:1–2 and 7:1); to be a heavenly priest who carries out atonement for his inheritance on the “day of atonement”; and to be the ultimate saviour of “the men of his lot” who destroys the kingdom of Belial and restores peace.
With the restoration of the day of peace, the text seems to introduce a new person, identified as “the messenger” of Isaiah 52:7, a text which the author combines with Isaiah 61:2–3. It defines this person as “the anointed by the spirit,” clearly in the singular. Unfortunately, neither the text of Daniel nor further details have been preserved. All that we can assert about him, therefore, is that the text clearly distinguishes him from the prophets of the past, and seems to consider him as introducing the action of the “heavenly Messiah.” His identification as the “eschatological Prophet,” which we will study next, cannot be considered as completely proved, but is certainly the most probable.70
4 Three “Messiahs”: the Eschatological Prophet
In commenting on the key text 1QS IX 11, we left in suspense the third figure who appeared there together with the “Messiahs of Aaron and of Israel” and is simply called “the Prophet”: “until the prophet comes and the Messiahs of Aaron and Israel.” It is obvious from his juxtaposition to the two “Messiah” figures that this person is an eschatological person. It is less evident that he is a true “messianic” figure, since unlike the other two he is not termed “anointed” here. And yet I think that even so he must be considered as a true “messianic” figure.
In essence, my reasoning is as follows. 4QTestimonia, a collection of texts which the community interprets messianically, and corresponds to the three figures of 1QS IX 11, begins by quoting Deuteronomy 18:18–19 as the base text which is the foundation for hope in the “Prophet like Moses,” “the Prophet” awaited at the end of time. Then comes Numbers 24:15–17, which is the foundation for the hope in the “Messiah-king.” Then Deuteronomy 33:8–11, which is the foundation for hope in the “Messiah-priest.” The three quotations are at the same level and in complete parallelism, and therefore must refer to similar figures. This figure of the “Prophet” is identical with the figures which the other texts denote as the “Interpreter of the Law,” who “teaches justice at the end of times” and the “messenger”-figures which have a clear prophetic character and are considered as messianic figures. Like them, then, the “Prophet” must be considered as a “messianic” figure. About the last of these figures, “the messenger,” we are told expressly in 11QMelch II 18 that he is “anointed by the spirit.” In other words, the technical term which in 1QS IX 11 is applied to the other two “messianic” figures is applied to him, in the singular. Accordingly, it seems justifiable to consider this “Prophet,” whose coming is expected at the same time as the “Messiahs of Aaron and of Israel,” as a true “messianic” figure.
The first item in my argument is obvious and needs no explanation. Perhaps, though, it might be useful to note that “anointed” can be applied to the first of the three figures referred to by the biblical texts of this collection of testimonia, as well as to the other two. The choice of Deuteronomy 18:18–19 shows that the expected “Prophet” is a “Prophet like Moses.” At Qumran, both Moses and the Prophets are called “anointed ones,” a title which seems to be based on the parallel between “anointed ones” and “prophets” in Psalm 105:15 and in the Old Testament allusions to the “anointing” of prophets. The parallel with “seers” and the function of announcing and teaching which is attributed to them in the following two texts make it clear that the “anointed ones” spoken about are none other than the prophets. 1QM XI 7 runs: “By the hand of your anointed ones, seers of decrees, you taught us the times of the wars of your hands.” And CD II 12: “And he taught them by the hands of his anointed ones71 through his holy spirit and through seers of the truth.” This allows CD VI 1 to be interpreted in the same way, where those who lead Israel astray rise against Moses but also against “the holy anointed ones.” And in a still unpublished fragment of a pseudo-Mosaic composition, to be published by D. Dimant, can be read “through the mouth of Moses, his anointed one.”72 This seems to be nothing else than a description of Moses as a prophet.
It will be useful, perhaps, to quote the biblical text with which hope in his coming is justified, since it makes it clear that this expected prophet like Moses is portrayed in the biblical text as a true interpreter of the Law:
5 “I would raise up for them a prophet from among their brothers, like you, and place my words 6 in his mouth, and he would tell them all that I command them. And it will happen that the man 7 who does not listen to my words, that the prophet will speak in my name, I 8 shall require a reckoning from him.” Blank (4Q175 5–8; DSST, 137).73
The second element is the most complex and implies examining the texts in which these figures occur. We have already quoted CD VII 18–21 and 4QFlorilegium col. I 11–12, which portray the figure of the “Interpreter of the Law.” But there is another text from the Damascus Document in which the same expression, “Interpreter of the Law,” occurs again. It is CD VI 7, where the “staff” of Numbers 21:18 is identified as the “Interpreter of the Law,” to whom the text of Isaiah 54:16 is applied. In this case, the wording and context of the text are sufficient proof that he is a person from the past. Most scholars identify him as the historical Teacher of Righteousness, also a person from the past.74 One of the great merits of van der Woude’s work is his convincing proof that both epithets “Interpreter of the Law” and “Teacher of Righteousness” are used as titles in CD. They are used to denote a person from the past and also an eschatological person whose coming is expected in the future. This enabled him to resolve the problem posed by the reference to an “Interpreter of the Law” in CD VI 7 as a figure from the past. He was also able to solve the problem posed by the text immediately after (in CD VI 11) which mentions a clearly eschatological figure from the future, given a title identical to that of “Teacher of Righteousness”: “until there arises he who teaches justice at the end of days.”
Van der Woude assembled the main arguments provided by the text proving that the historical figure referred to as “Teacher of Righteousness” and “Interpreter of the Law” was seen as a true “prophet.” This allowed him to conclude that this historical figure had been perceived as a “Prophet like Moses,” whose coming is expected in 1QS IX 11. In my view, this conclusion is wrong. A text such as CD XIX 35–XX 1 proves that the period of existence of the “unique Teacher” (or of the Teacher of the community) is seen as clearly different from the future coming of the “Messiahs” with whom the coming of the “Prophet” is associated.75 However, his arguments to prove the prophetic character of the person are completely correct. And they prove that the figure called “Interpreter of the Law” or “he who teaches justice at the end of days” must be identified with this “Prophet,” expected together with the “Messiahs of Aaron and of Israel.” Precisely because the historical “Teacher of Righteousness” was perceived as a true prophet like Moses it was possible to use the titles “he who teaches justice” or “Interpreter of the Law” for this figure expected for the end of time and also described as a “Prophet” like Moses.
The fundamental difference between my way of seeing and van der Woude’s is that for him the “Prophet” is not a “messianic” figure, but a forerunner of the Messiahs. I, on the other hand, believe that the eschatological “Prophet” is a “messianic” figure. He can only be identified with a historical person from the past if this person is considered as redivivus. His character of “messianic” figure is not an obstacle to his character of “forerunner.” This appears to be proved by the third figure: the “messenger” whom 11QMelch describes together with the heavenly “Messiah,” whose coming is expected in the final jubilee of history, and in the manuscript is called not only prophet but also “anointed by the spirit.”
To complete this presentation of the texts it is necessary to include three references, one published and the other two from still unpublished manuscripts, which mention one or more “anointed ones.” Unfortunately, the phrases lack a context which would allow their meaning to be determined. Yet, everything indicates that the first two refer not to a “Messiah” but to one or more “prophets.” The person to whom the third reference applies cannot be determined.
The first reference occurs in 1Q30 fragment 1,276 and the reading is very uncertain: “[an]ointed of holiness.” The parallelism with the expression of CD VI 1 and the possible reference of line 4 to “the five books” suggest that it applies to a prophet.
The second reference is in the last line of a column, the only line preserved in fragment 10 of 4Q287.77 The work from which it comes is a collection of blessings and curses of which several copies have been found and from which Milik had published a few lines.78 According to the transcription of the line in question in the Preliminary Concordance, the phrase should be translated “the holy spirit [res]ted upon his anointed one.” However, the reading is uncertain. In fact, the photograph allows reading the plural “his anointed ones,” and the parallel in CD II 12 requires the translation: “upon the anointed ones of the spirit of holiness,” i.e., the prophets.
We cannot conclude anything either from another recently published text in which the phrase “anointed with the oil of kingship”79 occurs. This is because we do not know to whom it refers. In the fragment where it occurs (frag. 2 of 4Q45880) someone destroys someone else and devours the uncircumcised, so that the phrase could have been applied to the expected “king-Messiah.” However, all that can be concluded is that it expresses the royal anointing of the person to whom it refers, whoever that person might be.
The simple presentation of the “messianic” texts has turned out to be too lengthy to allow us now to try and summarise the data they provide as a form of conclusion. In addition, I am not certain that a summary like J. Starcky’s famous summary,81 in which he discovered four stages of development in the Qumran community, would be possible today. The famous omission of the messianic passage 1QS IX 11 from the oldest copy, palaeographically speaking, of the Rule, if not due to accidental causes, suggests a certain development. And the palaeographically late date (1st century ce) of the two texts which mention the heavenly “Messiah” could indicate that this form of messianic hope is a later development. However, these simple facts do not allow a summary to be attempted. Even, for example, a summary which, starting with the clear biblical antecedents of the idea of a davidic Messiah, and going on to a priestly Messiah, double messianism, the multiplication of expected messianic figures (whether called “Messiah” or not) culminates in the hope for a heavenly “Messiah.”
I am not even convinced that it would be possible to fit all these texts into G. Scholem’s scheme of a “restorative messianism” versus a “utopian messianism” as Talmon and Schiffman do.82 This does not necessarily imply the conclusion that for the Qumran community “messianic” ideas were a private matter, in which different and even conflicting opinions could co-exist in harmony because ultimately they lack importance,83 or because in “messianology” consistency is impossible.84 The large number of references inserted in every kind of literary context, including legal contexts, testifies to its importance for the Qumran community. And the hope in many and varied “messianic” figures cannot be considered as itself “inconsistent.” Ultimately, in the 1st century the Jewish group whom we know through the New Testament was to merge the hope in a “Messiah king,” a “Messiah-priest,” a “Prophet like Moses,” a “Suffering Servant” and even a “heavenly Messiah” into one historical person from the past whose return is expected in the eschatological future.
Florentino García Martínez is professor at the University of Groningen, the Netherlands, where he leads the Qumran Institute. This chapter is reprinted from The People of the Dead Sea Scrolls, ed. Florentino García Martínez and Julio Trebolle Barrera (Leiden: E. J. Brill, 1995).
- Written at the request of Professor Gunter Sternberger and published in German in the Jahrbuch für Biblische Theologie 8 (1993).
- From the basic work by A. S. van der Woude, Die messianische Vorstellungen der Gemeinde von Qumran (Studia Semitica Neerlandica 3) Assen 1957. A bibliography of the most important works from these twenty-five years is to be found in J. A. Fitzmyer, The Dead Sea Scrolls. Major Publications and Tools for Study (Society of Biblical Literature [SBL] Resources for Biblical Study 4) Missoula 1975, 114–118.
- It is significant that in the 1991 edition of his The Dead Sea Scrolls. Major Publications and Tools for Study (SBL Resources for Biblical Study 20) Atlanta 1991, 164–167 adds only six titles to the list published in 1975.
- Among the studies published recently see G. J. Brooke, “The Messiah of Aaron in the Damascus Document,” Revue de Qumrân (RQ) 15/57–58 (1991) 215–230; A. Chester, “Jewish Messianic Expectations and Mediatorial Figures and Pauline Christology,” in M. HengelU. Heckel (eds.), Paulus und das antike Judentum, Tübingen 1992, 17–89; M. A. Knibb, “The Teacher of Righteousness—A Messianic Title?” in P. R. DaviesR. T. White (eds.), A Tribute to Geza Vermes (JSOT Press 100) Sheffield 1990, 51–65; M. A. Knibb, “The Interpretation of Damascus Document VII, 9b-VIII, 2a and XIX, 5b–14,” RQ 15/57–58 (1991) 243–251; P. Sacchi, “Esquisse du développement du messianisme juif à la lumière du texte qumrânien 11QMelch,” Zeitschrift fr die Alttestamentliche Wissenschaft (ZAW) 100 (Supplement) (1988) 202–214; F. M. Schweitzer, “The Teacher of Righteousness,” in Z. J. Kapera (ed.), Mogilany 1989. Papers on the Dead Sea Scrolls, Volume 2 (Qumranica Mogilanensia 3), Kraków 1991, 53–97; L. E. Schiffman, “Messianic Figures and Ideas in the Qumran Scrolls,” in J. H. Charlesworth (ed.), The Messiah. Developments in Early Judaism and Christianity, Minneapolis 1992, 116–129; S. Talmon, “Waiting for the Messiah—The Conceptual Universe of the Qumran Covenanters,” in S. Talmon (ed.), The World of Qumran from Within. Collected Studies, Jerusalem/Leiden 1989, 273–300 (= J. NeusnerW. S. GreenE. Frerichs (eds.), Judaisms and Their Messiahs at the Turn of the Christian Era, Cambridge 1987, 111–137); S. Talmon, “The Concept of Masîah and Messianism in Early Judaism,” in J. H. Charlesworth (ed.), The Messiah, 79–115; J. C. VanderKam, “Jubilees and the Priestly Messiah of Qumran,” RQ 13/49–52 (1988) 353–365.
- They are the editio princeps of three Aramaic texts completed by E. Puech, “Fragment d’une apocalypse en araméen (4Q246 = pseudoDan) et le ‘Royaume de Dieu,’ ” Revue biblique (RB) 99 (1992) 98–131; “Une apocalypse messianique (4Q521),” RQ 15/60 (1992) 475–522; “Fragments d’un apocryphe de Lvi et le personnage eschatologique. 4QTestLvia-d et 4QAJ,” in J. TrebolleBarreraL. Vegas Montaner (eds.), The Madrid Qumran Congress (Studies on the Texts of the Desert of Judah [STDJ] 11) Leiden 1992, 449–501, pls. 16–22; and of a Hebrew fragment published by G. Vermes, “The Oxford Forum for Qumran Research: Seminar on the Rule of War from Cave 4 (4Q285),” Journal of Jewish Studies (JJS) 43 (1992) 85–94.
- For example, L. H. Schiffman in “Messianic Figures and Ideas in the Qumran Scrolls” (cited in note 4).
- In Hesse’s words, “Keine der Messias-Stellen des Alten Testaments kann messianisch gedeutet werden,” Theologisches Wörterbuch zum Neuen Testament IX, 494.
- In which the Blessing of Jacob comprises one of the key texts for the expression of messianic hope. See the detailed study by M. Pérez Fernández, Tradiciones mesiánicas en el Targum Palestinense, Jerusalem-Valencia 1981, 112–144, especially pp. 123–135 on Genesis 49:10.
- The messianic passage was published by J. M. Allegro, “Further Messianic References in Qumran Literature,” Journal of Biblical Literature (JBL) 75 (1956) 74–184; the first two preserved columns of the manuscript have been published recently by T. H. Lim, “The Chronology of the Flood Story in a Qumran Text (4Q252),” JJS 43 (1992) 288–298. The photographs of all the fragments preserved is to be found in PAM 43.253 and 43.381, reproduced in plates 1289 and 1375 of R. H. Eisenman-J. M. Robinson (eds.), A Facsimile Edition of the Dead Sea Scrolls (FE), Biblical Archaeological Society, Washington 1991.
- Separated by a Blank in the foregoing text and with the heading “Jacob’s Blessings” in 4Q252 IV 3.
- Column IV 3–7 contains remains of the blessing of Reuben, V 1–7, part of the blessing of Judah and the remains of column VI correspond to the blessing of Naphtali.
- The actual quotation has not been preserved and it is impossible to know whether a literal quotation from Genesis 49:10 preceded the commentary of this column V. The evidence of the preceding columns is ambiguous in this regard; the blessing of Reuben begins with the literal quotation followed by its pesher, but the interpretation, for example, of the story of the flood is incorporated into the additions, changes and omissions of the actual account.
- As van der Woude had already proved (op. cit. in note 2) 171–172.
- 4Q254 (4QpGenc): PAM, 43.233, FE 1270.
- Q253 (4QpGenb): PAM, 43.258, FE 1294.
- Text in J. M. Allegro, Discoveries in the Judaean Desert of Jordan (DJD) V, Oxford 1968, 11–15, plates 4–5, with the corrections by J. Strugnell, “Notes en marge du volume V des ‘Discoveries in the Judaean Desert of Jordan,’ ” RQ 7 (1969–71) 183–186.
- A title which, in itself, seems to identify its bearer as the davidic “Messiah” in so far as it obviously derives from the “Prince” of Ezekiel 40–48, the chief of the future community, of which Ezekiel 34:24 and 37:25 says precisely “and my servant David will be his prince for ever.”
- Published by J. T. Milik in Discoveries in the Judaean Desert (DJD) I, Oxford 1955, 118–130, pls. 25–29.
- 4Q285 and the copy which comes from Cave 11, published by A. S. van der Woude with the title 11QBerakhot, “Ein neuer Segenspruch aus Qumran,” in Bibel und Qumran (Festschrift H. Bardtke), Berlin 1968, 253–258, which matches fragments 3 and 4 of 4Q285. This match was noticed by J. T. Milik, “Milkîsedeq and Milkî-resa dans les anciens ècrits juifs et chrètiens,” JJS 23 (1972): 143, who was also the first to suggest that both manuscripts come from the lost ending to the War Rule.
- Besides fragment 5,4 there are references to the “Prince of the congregation” in fragments 4.2 and 6,2; unfortunately, though, they are references which are too fragmentary to provide us with any useful elements.
- G. Vermes, “The Oxford Forum for Qumran Research: Seminar or the Rule of War from Cave 4(4Q285)” (cited in note 5).
- J. D. Tabor, “A Pierced or Piercing Messiah?—The Verdict is Still Out,” Biblical Archaeology Review (BAR) 18/6 (1992) 58–59
- Besides the texts quoted, the “Prince of the congregation” occurs in IQM V 1, where only tells us the inscription he will bear on his sceptre, and in CD 7,20 and 4Q376, two texts we will study below.
- E. Puech, “Une apocalypse messianique” (cited in note 5).
- J. Starcky, in “Le travail d’édition des manuscrits de Qumrân,” RB 63 (1956) 66.
- In fragment 9,3 the word “Messiah” is incomplete, so that it cannot be used.
- A unique expression and difficult to explain, given that in the other writings it is always a matter of God’s “precepts” and in most cases God is explicitly mentioned. In the Qumran texts, as in the Hebrew Bible, “Holy Ones” could evidently denote the angels. Accordingly, the phrase could mean the union of the “Messiah” with the “Holy Ones” and indicate that in the messianic age all creation will keep the angelic precepts. However, “the holy ones” is also used (especially in texts of eschatological content, such as 1QM and 1QSb) to denote the members of the community, so that the expression could be understood as alluding to the divine precepts exactly as they are interpreted by the members of the community. Or is it merely an objective adjective for these precepts as holy precepts?
- In fact, the reference to “all Israel” in III 5 could imply a different context since the author appears to restrict his horizon to the faithful members of the community in the description of the messianic age of column II. In the allusion to the sceptre a reference to the “Messiah of Israel,” and in the allusions to the priesthood of fragments 8–9, Puech accepts a possible reference to the “priestly Messiah,” but prudently concludes that the condition of the manuscript does not permit any definitive conclusion.
- M. O. Wise-J. D. Tabor, “The Messiah at Qumran,” BAR 18/6 (1992) 60–65.
- Although they accept that it is a purely speculative reconstruction.
- As specified in fragment 7+5 II 5–6: “like these, the accursed; and they shall be for death [when] (6) [he makes] the dead of his people [ri]se.”
- E. Puech, “Fragments d’un apocryphe de Lévi et le personnage eschatologique. 4QTestLévia-d et 4QAJ” (cited in note 5).
- J. Starcky, “Les quatre étapes du messianisme à Qumran,” RB 70 (1963) 492.
- “And after vengeance on them will have come from the Lord, the priesthood will fail. Then the Lord will raise up a new priest, to whom all the words of the Lord will be revealed; and he will execute a judgment of truth upon the earth in course of time. And his star will arise in heaven, as a king, lighting up the light of knowledge as by the sun of the day; and he will be magnified in the world until his assumption. He will shine as the sun on the earth and will remove all darkness from under heaven, and there will be peace on all the earth,” TestLev 18:1–4, as translated by H. W. Hollander-M. de Jonge, The Testaments of the Twelve Pariarchs (Studia inVeteris Testamenti Pseudepigrapha 8) Leiden 1985, 177.
- See recently J. C. VanderKam, “Righteous One, Messiah, Chosen One, and Son of Man in I Enoch 3–71″ in J. H. Charlesworth (ed.), The Messiah (cited in note 4) 169–191, with references to previous studies.
- M. Stone, “The Question of the Messiah in 4 Ezra,” in M. Stone, Selected Studies in Pseudepigrapha & Apocrypha (Studia Varsaviensia theologica papers 9) 317–322(=J. Neusner-W. S. Green-E. Frerich [eds.], Judaism and Their Messiahs at the Turn of the Christian Era, Cambridge 1987, 209–224) and “Excursus on the Redeemer Figure,” in M. Stone, Fourth Ezra (Hermeneia), Minneapolis 1990, 207–213.
- In an excellent article in which he stresses how both figures represent a particular “messianic” interpretation of Daniel 7, “The Son of Man in First-Century Judaism,” New Testament Studies (NTS) 38 (1992) 448–466. Collins suggests (p. 466 note 78) that 4Q246 could contain a similar messianic interpretation of the Daniel figure, an intuition which seems absolutely correct and matches my own understanding of the text.
- The text was presented by J. T. Milik in a lecture given at Harvard University in 1972 and was made known by J. A. Fitzmyer in his study “The Contribution of Qumran Aramaic to the Study of the New Testament,” NTS 20 (1972–74) 382–407 and reprinted with an important supplement in J. A. Fitzmyer, A Wandering Aramean. Collected Aramaic Essays (SBL Monograph Series 25), Chico 1979, 85–107.
- See D. Flusser, “The Hubris of the Antichrist in a Fragment from Qumran,” Immanuel 10 (1980) 31–37, and F. García Martínez, “The eschatological figure of 4Q246″ in F. García Martínez, Qumran and Apocalyptic (STDJ 9) Leiden 1992, 162–179. G. Kuhn, “Röm 1,3 f und der davidische Messias als Gottessohn in den Qumrantexten,” in Ch. Burchard-G. Thiessen (eds.), Lese-Zeichen für Annelies Findreifs zum 65. Geburtstag am 15. März 1984, Heidelberg 1984, 103–113.
- E. Puech, “Fragment d’une apocalypse en araméen (4Q246 = pseudo-Dand) et le ‘Royaume de Dieu’ ” (cited above, note 5).
- F. García Martínez, “The eschatological figure of 4Q246″ (note 39).
- E. Puech, 124–125 and 102, note 14.
- On the interpretation of the “Son of Man” of Daniel 7 as an individual with an angelic nature see J. J. Collins, The Apocalyptic Vision of the Book of Daniel (Harvard Semitic Monographs 16) Ann Arbor 1977, 144–147.
- See E. Puech, 116–117.
- Ibid. 129.
- Edition and plates in The Dead Sea Scrolls of St. Mark’s Monastery, Vol. II, New Haven 1951. Colour photographs by J. C. Trever in Scrolls from Qumran Cave 1, Jerusalem 1972. I have also been able to use a new critical edition prepared by E. Qimron which includes the parallels from the copies from other caves, to be published shortly.
- For a general view of the messianism of this work see A. S. van der Woude, Die messianische Vorstellungen (cited in note 2) 190–216.
- A detail made known by J. T. Milik, Ten Years of Discovery in the Wilderness of Judaea, London 1959, 123–124 and in RB 67 (1960) 413 and exploited by J. Starcky in his famous article “Les quatres étapes du messianisme à Qumrân” (cited in note 33).
- 4Q259 col. III 6; see PAM 43.263, FE 1299.
- I use the critical edition prepared by E. Qimron and included in M. Broshi (ed.), The Damascus Document Reconsidered, Jerusalem 1992, which is accompanied by photographs of excellent quality and contains parallels to the copies found in Qumran.
- The phrase occurs in the oldest copy of CD from Cave 4, 4Q266 (4QDo.11a) frag. 18 III 12, which proves that it is an original reading and not a correction by a medieval copyist; see PAM 43.276, FE 1312.
- The manuscript reads meshuach, an obvious mistake as all scholars accept.
- Although the copy 4QDb frag. 18 III 1 (PAM 43.270, FE 1306) reads “Messiah of Aaron and Israel.”
- See most recently the article by G. Brooke cited in note 4.
- F. M. Cross, “Some Notes on a Generation of Qumran Studies,” in The Madrid Qumran Congress, (STDJ XI/1) Leiden 1992, 14 frames this trenchant conclusion: “The putative single messiah is a phantom of bad philology.”
- Edition and plates in DJD I, Oxford 1955, 108–118, pls. 23–24. The only monograph devoted entirely to this manuscript is L. H. Schiffman, The Eschatological Community of the Dead Sea Scrolls (Society of Biblical Literature Monograph Series 38) Atlanta 1989.
- DJD I, 117. See also P. Skehan, “Two Books on Qumran Studies,” Catholic Biblical Quarterly 21 (1959) 74. For other readings and interpretations see K. G. Kuhn, “The Two Messiahs of Aaron and Israel,” in K. Stendahl, The Scrolls and the New Testament, London 1958, 56 or L. H. Schiffman, op. cit. (previous note) 54, who follows the readings and reconstructions of J. Licht.
- See, for example, A. S. van der Woude (op. cit. note 2) 101–104 and L. H. Schiffman (op. cit. note 56) 55–56. This conclusion forces this same messianic figure to be acknowledged in the “Chief Priest” or “High Priest” of 1QM II 1; XV 4 and XVI 13, as van der Woude already has, against what L. Schiffman explicitly states on p. 123 of the article cited in note 4. Even more than in 4Q285, which apparently comes from the end of the same composition, the “Prince of the congregation” plays an important role and as we have seen above, this name is one of the titles of the “davidic Messiah.” Discussion of these texts, however, must be reserved for another occasion.
- J. Strugnell, “Moses-Pseudepigrapha at Qumran: 4Q375, 4Q376, and Similar Works,” in L. H. Schiffman (ed.), Archaeology and History in the Dead Sea Scrolls, The New York Conference in Memory of Yigael Yadin (Journal for the Study of the Pseudepigrapha 8) Sheffield 1990, 221–256.
- The two most characteristic allusions in terms of vocabulary to indicate a Qumran origin of the composition, “hidden things” and “fathers of the congregation,” are partly reconstructions by the editor.
- The text is found in part in the copy 4QDb (4Q267) frag. 3 col. IV 9–10 (PAM 43.270, FE 1306) and possibly in 4Q271, 4QDf frag. 5 (PAM 43.300, FE 1335) although this is very uncertain.
- As, for example, A. Caquot, “Le messianisme qumrânien” in M. Delcor (ed.), Qumrân: Sa piété, sa théologie et son milieu (Bibliotheca Ephemeridum Theologicarum Lovaniensium 46) Louvain 1978, 241–242.
- For example, G. Brooke, “The AmosNumbers Midrash (CD 7,13b–8) and Messianic Expectation,” ZAW 92 (1980) 397–404. See most recently the detailed study of the passage by M. Knibb in RQ 15/57–58 (1991) 248–251 (cited in note 4).
- J. Starcky, “Les quatres étapes” (cited in note 33), 497.
- In the work cited in note 2, 43–61 and in his contribution to the IXes Journées Bibliques de Louvain, “Le Maître de Justice et les deux messies de la communauté de Qumrân” in La secte de Qumrân et les origines chrétiennes (Recherches Bibliques 4) Bruges 1969, 123–134.
- See most recently P. Pilhofer, “Wer salbt den Messias? Zum Streit um die Chronologie im ersten Jahrhundert des jüdisch-christlichen Dialogs,” in D.-A. Koch-H. Lichtenberger (eds.), Begegnungen zwischen Christentum und Judentum in Antike und Mittelalter (Festschrift für H. Schrekenberg), Göttingen 1993, 335–345.
- N. Wieder, “The Doctrine of the two Messiahs among the Karaites,” JJS 6 (1953) 14–23.
- Text and plates in DJD V, Oxford 1968, 53–57, pls. 19–20.
- The manuscript was published by A. S. van der Woude, “Melchisedek als himmlische Erlösergestalt in den neugefundenen eschatologischen Midraschim aus Qumran Höhle XI,” Oudtestamentische Studien 14 (1963) 354–373, 2. pls., and has been extensively studied. My translation incorporates most of the readings and reconstructions proposed by E. Puech, “Notes sur le manuscrit de 11QMelkisédeq,” RQ 12/48 (1987) 483–513.
- As the editor explained in a joint article with M. de Jonge, “11QMelchizedek and the New Testament,” NTS 12 (1966) 307.
- The correction of the text from “his anointed one” to “anointed ones” is generally accepted.
- 4Q377 2 II 5 FE 497, a central fragment with remains of two columns. Unfortunately, this photograph, the only one available to me, is of such bad quality that the fragment remains virtually unreadable. The manuscript is labelled Sl 12 in the Preliminary Concordance to the Hebrew and Aramaic Fragments from Qumrân Caves II-X, where the phrase in question is transcribed.
- Text and plates in DJD V, Oxford 1968, 57–60, pl. 21.
- See the arguments adduced by van der Woude in the works cited in note 67. This figure occurs frequently in 1QpHab and in CD, where he is called “Teacher of Righteousness,” “Unique Teacher,” “he who teaches justice” or “the unique teacher” interchangeably.
- A fact which van der Woude accepts but resolves by supposing that the text of 1QS IX 11, which witnesses the hope in the “Prophet” is earlier than the appearance of the Teacher of Righteousness his acceptance? as prophet and his death; see Die messianische Vorstellungen, 84–85 and 187.
- Text and plates in DJD I, 132–133, pl. 30.
- PAM 43,400; FE 1394.
- J. T. Milik “Milki-sedeq et Milki-resa” (cited in note 19) 130–131.
- (See DSST, 228ff.). The phrase is cited by Strugnell (article cited in note 59) as parallel to the expression “oil of anointing” in 4Q375 I 8, and to “oil of his priestly anointing” in 1QM IX 8, and as coming from 4Q453 2 II 6. The work has now been given the siglum 4Q458.
- PAM 43.544; FE 1493.
- In his article “Les quatre étapes du messianisme à Qumrân” (cited in note 33).
- In the studies cited in note 4.
- As M. Smith, “What is implied in the variety of messianic figures,” JBL 78 (1959) 66–72 seems to suggest.
- As J. H. Charlesworth “From Messianology to Christology. Problems and Prospects,” in The Messiah, 28, concludes.